Elias handed a beer to Cole and sat down on the chair kitty cornered to the couch. “So, what’ve you got on Austen?”
“Well, probably more than I should, but I doubt it’s enough to tell you much of anything.”
“That’s all right. I’m not looking for a miracle or anything. I just need to satisfy as much of the curiosity as I can so I can get back to the research for my actual story. Just tell me whatever you know.”
Cole nodded. “He was born in the late eighties. Abused by mom and dad until they gave him up around the age of six, adopted by a young-ish black couple around the Midwest somewhere. He ditched ‘em soon as he was old enough to and moved to Los Angeles. He attended college there, graduated early, started working with the LAPD as a forensic analyst. Quiet L.A. life from there, mostly. Nothing big outside of a few stunts pulled during cases that got him on the news. For the most part, he was a minor at the time and they didn’t blast his name all over the news because of it.
“This detective in his department ran away with a killer, they tracked the pair down and put ‘em through trial. Austen testified against them, got them both put away for life, I think. He moved out to Minnesota, worked a couple cases before his girlfriend was murdered during some serial killer case.”
Elias watched him take a drink. “You, umm… know quite a lot about him.”
“I like knowing about the people that work and live around my baby sister, especially when the ‘people’ are sucking the dick of the mob.”
“Jesus.” A surprised laugh fell past Elias’s lips. He took a sip of his beer. “You got anything past that?”
“Mmhmm. Austen went to trial for his girlfriend’s murder. The DA had the evidence he needed to convict him, so of course he went for it, but he dropped the charges in the end. Austen went back to L.A. full time for a while, eventually married some cop. They’re back and forth between Minnesota and California for work and shit. Lug their kids around between the two places. Husband doesn’t seem to be involved in the mob in any way.”
“How do you figure that?”
“When shit goes down in L.A., nine times outta ten, Bo’s the only one in California. Hubby stays home with the kids like your typical mobster housewife.”
Elias winced. “Mob, umm, ‘dick sucker’ or not, I’d love if you didn’t call the man’s male husband a ‘housewife’.”
Cole looked up at him, cheeks flushed. “Oh, right, you’re…” He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. Dude seems like your typical mob spouse. He may know about it. He may not. But he’s not heavily involved in the happenings of it, if at all.”
“So you don’t know much about the husband?”
The intern shook his head. “Nah. Dude’s not on my list of concerns. It’s the head honchos I worry the most about, and in this case, that’s Austen, not his husband.”
Elias nodded, crossing an ankle over the opposite thigh. “The court case. How did the charges get dropped?”
“Man, I wish I knew for sure. Sullivan, the DA, just dropped them. He had a speech and a news conference for it, said Austen was innocent.”
“If he’s so innocent, why seek the charges?”
“I mean, one of two reasons. Prosecutors are blood thirsty wolves, or because Austen killed his girlfriend, her killer, and some dude in the woods.”
“Some dude in the woods,” Elias echoed.
“It wasn’t mafia-related so I didn’t dig too deeply into it. I don’t even really know all the case details when it comes to the girlfriend thing.” Cole took a long sip of his beer. “Sure you could have that hacker chick of yours dig up anything you wanted on the court case or the husband. She could probably get Austen’s schooling records too. I know he graduated high school and college early.”
“Probably could, but I like to keep my spending limited to things I can actually use for the article.”
“What, you aren’t allowed to incriminate anyone but the Minetti boys?” Cole raised a brow. “Is it because Pitman donates to your parents’ bullshit?”
“My parents’ organization and charities are not ‘bullshit’.”
Cole shook his head, his cheeks flushing again. “Sorry, that came out wrong. Bullshit’s my go-to when I don’t know the exact details of something. Like, uh… Think of it like when people say ‘thingy’. ‘Bullshit’ is my ‘thingy’.”
“I’ll do my best.” Elias took a sip of his beer, giving himself a moment to think. “I don’t care who donates to my parents’ charities. It doesn’t make them immune to investigation,” he lied. “It’s just that this article isn’t about Jamal or Bo. It’s about Tito and Vito, and when you start throwing in more and more people, more and more accusations… Well, it takes away from the perceived legitimacy of the article. I’m not going to waste months of my life researching this article only for it to be a permanent flop on my career’s record.”
After a moment, Cole nodded. “Yeah, that makes sense. Maybe for your second big article, huh?”
Elias couldn’t help but smile. His second big article absolutely wouldn’t be about Jamal Pitman or Bo Austen-Taylor, but imagining his first article went well enough that his boss let him choose a second was… Christ, it was close to resembling euphoria. “Yeah, maybe for my second big article.”
A/N: Heads-up that this is the last complete chapter I have, so if there isn’t an update next Monday, it’s just because I didn’t make it back around to Truths and Chains in my WIP cycle-through. Thank you for your understanding!
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